The Tourism Department has decided to declare seven new places in Sambalpur district as tourist spots and give them due recognition. It has also recently sent a proposal to the State Government for approval.
These new places are Bhatra, Vikampur, Kadalipita, Pitapali, Rengali Panchu, Bhima Mandali and Khinda. All these places have enough potential to attract tourists from across the country and aboard, said District Tourist Officer (DTO) Rabindra Dalei.
Bhatra is famous for the Gandhi Mandir (temple) situated in Ward No 1of Sambalpur town. It was built in the year 1974 by a senior Congress leader and former MlA of Rairkhol Abhimanyu Kumbhar. A bronze statue of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi is installed inside where people worship Gandhi as god - a unique phenomenon all over the country. People from far off places come here to visit the temple.
Vikampur located at a distance of 26 kilometers from the Sambalpur district headquarters is another place of tourist importance. The Samaleswari temple here attracts thousands of tourists. The iconography of goddess Samaleswari in Vikampur is quite unique.
Similarly, Kadalipita is a small village located around 30 kilometers from Sambalpur district headquarters and is situated on the foothills of Jharghati, the mountain on which freedom fighter Veer Surendra Sai fought against the British. The place is historically significant.
likewise, Pitapali is a picnic spot of the Hirakud Dam Reservoir. It is located at a distance of around 18 kilometers from Sambalpur town and the place is more known for its scenic beauty and blue water. It is hard to get a square feet of empty space here during the winter season as thousands of people come here every year.
Rengali Panchu is also another picnic spot located in the Naktideul block of Sambalpur district. There is a perennial hot water spring near the village. This is situated around 110 kilometers away from Sambalpur.
Bhima Mandali is located inside the landimal reserve forest under the Rairakhol forest division. The small serpentine Champali river flows close to it. The central attraction of this place is a cave popularly known as ‘Bhima Dali’ or ‘Bhima Mandali’, which is named after Bhima, the second brother among the Pandavas in the Mahabharata. People believe that during the agnyatabasa (hiding), the Pandavas including Bhima stayed in this cave.
And finally, Khinda the birth place of great freedom fighter, Veer Surendra Sai is located at a distance of 41 kilometers from Sambalpur district headquarters. The place is historically significant and situated on the bank of Hirakud dam reservoir. “This village is a source of inspiration to all those who love their country,” the DTO said.
“Our department made a survey of the spots on the basis of inflow of tourists, activities in those places, the culture and tradition of the people there, etc before preparing the proposal,” informed Dalei, adding that the places will be eligible to avail funds from the department of tourism after they are declared as the tourist centers. Several tourist amenities could be developed there as added attractions, he said further.
There are already seven identified tourist centres in Sambalpur district, such as - Sambalpur, Hirakud, Ushakothi, Huma, Chipilima, Gudguda and Kendhara. If approved by the Government, the number would be doubled. District Collector Balwant Singh is also taking active interest for utilizing the tourism potential of the district as these activities help in generating income for the locals, sources said.